Computer Purchasing Guide
This guide is designed to help students select a computer system for use while attending the UNL College of Law.
Your computer will be used primarily for accessing your email, word processing, taking notes in class, Internet access including reference databases, and most importantly, taking many of your final examinations. (If you’re more interested in playing the newest video games, processing large databases, or heavy graphics work, then these recommendations aren’t for you!)
Please remember that a computer purchase is not required by the UNL College of Law. The Law Library offers a limited number of Laptop Checkout computers for our law students to use during the regular course of each semester. Our Laptop Checkout computers are erased after each time that a student uses them, so if you wish to save your files long-term, a USB flash drive is required.
The use of floppy diskettes is not supported.
- Display: Minimum 11" screen. Some applications will not run correctly on 9" sized "Netbook" computers.
- Operating System: Mac OS X 10.8 or higher; Windows 7 or Windows 8 and 8.1.
- CPU: Intel Core i5 or better (or equivalent AMD CPU).
- Storage: At least 120GB Hard Drive (or preferably, Solid State Drive).
- Memory: 4GB RAM minimum - we recommend at least 8GB RAM.
- WiFi Adapter - we recommend 802.11n or 802.11ac
Laptops may be purchased from any vendor and are available from the UNL Computer & Phone Shop.
You may choose to use a tablet or alternative operating system for your own personal note-taking during the course of the semester, but please note that you MUST have a supported Mac or Windows PC in order to take your mid-term and final exams electronically each term.
Our exam software, Exam4, does NOT work on: Linux, Chromebook, iPad, Android, Ubuntu, or any other operating system not listed above.
- Each student should have at least one USB flash memory drive for saving files from Laptop Checkout computers or for other short-term saving, transferring, printing, sharing, etc.
- For ongoing/continuous work on your documents, we recommend using a Cloud Storage solution. This offers you automatic backups of your important documents (in case of your computer's failure) and many services also offer versioning (in case you need to revert to an older version of the document).
We do not recommend any one particular service - To name a few options, you can choose from Box.Net, Dropbox.com, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Carbonite, and many others.
All of these are effective solutions to store and protect your class work from data loss. If you require a specific feature, you will need to research different providers before making your selection.
- Anti-Virus Protection: Symantec anti-virus (Provided to students by UNL) or Microsoft Security Essentials required for Windows. Anti-virus software is recommended, but not required, for Mac OS X. Windows 8 includes "Windows Defender" which provides anti-virus protection.
- Do NOT run multiple antivirus programs on the same computer. Your laptop's performance will suffer
- Anti-Spyware Protection: Microsoft Security Essentials, Ad-Aware, and Spybot recommended for Windows. Anti-spyware software is not required for Mac OS X.
- You MAY run multiple anti-spyware or anti-malware protections on the same computer.
- Productivity Software: Microsoft Office 2010 software suite for Windows, or Microsoft Office 2011 For Mac software suite for Macintosh, are available from the UNL Computer Phone Shop at an extremely discounted price to current UNL students.
If you prefer an Open-Source alternative, you can also use compatible software such as OpenOffice or LibreOffice, that allows you to save files in a .DOC format. Google Drive (Formerly Google Docs) is another reliable, free alternative.
- College of Law will provide you with a USB speakerphone, which includes a speaker and an echo-cancelling microphone. (Plantronics Calisto 420)
- You must provide a laptop of sufficient power to run Adobe Connect videoconferencing software. Most modern computers should handle this - we recommend a minimum of a dual-core processor and at least 4 GB of RAM memory.
- Most mid-range laptops sold in the past two years offer quad-core processors and 8GB or more of RAM memory, and should work well for this type of usage.
- Your laptop must have a built-in camera, or you must provide a USB-connected web camera, in order to share your video with the College of Law class session in progress.
- If you do not have a web camera, we recommend purchasing the Microsoft LifeCam Studio due to its' high video quality and sharp, crisp image.
- You must provide an internet connection of sufficient speed & bandwidth to support your videoconferencing. We recommend at least 5 Mbps down / 1 Mbps up, but this might vary based on your local ISP, their quality-of-service policies, and the number of customers in your area who are also utilizing their bandwidth.
General Information for Entering Students
The Schmid Law Library does not offer a computer lab for law student use. Instead, we offer a laptop checkout program. A small fleet of high-quality laptop computers, available through the Circulation Desk to current J.D. students who wish to use them, provide our law students access to the Internet and to the Microsoft Office software suite. Each laptop checkout is for a maximum length of 24 hours. If you have an extenuating circumstance that requires you to borrow a laptop for a longer duration of time, exceptions will be granted on an individual basis by Law College I.T. staff.
More information about Information Technology can be found on the Information Technology page.
If you anticipate buying a new computer before starting law school, you may want to consider buying a laptop. Some professors make materials available on the web, and students may find it useful to access these materials during class. At minimum, all students are expected to have a well-maintained laptop computer that they can use for their exams during each final exam period.